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A talent for doing best for the gifted

A school has become the first in Wales to gain a special award for its work with able and talented children. The National Association of Able Children in Education (NACE) has made its first challenge award in Wales to Tiryberth primary school in the Rhymney valley.

The school, which has 172 pupils aged from three to 11, has been heavily involved in a programme to develop and foster the talents of all its pupils for the past two years.

And the hard work of teaching and support staff was recognised last week by assessors from NACE, who spent a day sitting in on lessons and talking to parents, governors and staff.

The school had already submitted an extensive portfolio put together by more able and talented co-ordinator Jackie Roome, which outlined the measures taken to nurture the talents and abilities of pupils.

"The school has always identified every child's needs and tried to address them," said headteacher Debbie Harteveld. "But there has been a special focus on this for the past two years."

Children who are assessed as having more academic ability - 27 per cent - are given lessons designed to stretch them and keep them challenged.

Tiryberth also tries to identify any special talents that children may have, whether it be musical, sporting or artistic. One in 20 come into this category.

"We have discovered children who are excelling in outside activities of which the school knew nothing, like judo and karate," said Mrs Roome. "One child has a flair for drama and has been auditioning for West End shows."

The school has fully involved the parents, who have been asked to fill in a questionnaire saying what activities their children undertake. Attempts are made to cater for a whole range of these in after-school clubs in, for example, guitar, Spanish, football, IT, cricket and Welsh folk dancing.

"After identifying every child's needs, we tailor a learning package for them ," said Ms Harteveld. "Children develop at different speeds. We need to constantly check on their progress."

All staff have received extra training and the school has received full backing from Caerphilly education authority.

Mrs Harteveld said the school was ecstatic about the award. "This programme has huge benefits for every child in the school. It is fully inclusive. I am so proud of everyone."

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